How to reduce hip and knee pain while walking
Simple movement, like walking, can be difficult after a hip or knee injury. Orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Nathan Moroski, MD, offers some tips to help you reduce that pain and keep you on your feet.
Caitlin Whyte (Host): Simple movement, like walking can be difficult after a hip or knee injury. So, today we’re going to help you reduce that pain and keep you on your feet with Dr. Nathan Moroski, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Prisma Health. This is Flourish a podcast brought to you by Prisma Health. I’m Caitlin Whyte. Now doctor, why is walking a good form of exercise?
Nathan Moroski, MD (Guest): Walking is a great form of exercise, really because of a couple of things. First of all, it’s a low impact. So, it’s relatively easy on the joint. It’s practical. I mean, you can literally walk out your front door and go for a walk. Most people, at least, and then it’s efficient, you know, not a lot of time is wasted going to or from the gym, things like that. So again, it’s accessibility and it’s ease and the joints are pretty much the main things that make it really beneficial.
Host: Now, what are some strategies for reducing hip and knee pain while walking?
Dr. Moroski: Yeah. So I get asked this a lot. Couple of big things. One is just making sure you’re warmed up before you begin your walk. So engaging in some light stretching, just to make sure that your muscles and body’s warmed up and ready to go. And then the next thing would be, you know, really not jumping in too quick. You know, sometimes people get really motivated and decide that I’m going to go, you know, for an hour walk. Well, if you haven’t been walking up until then, you know, what I typically recommend is increase progressively in a step wise, manner give your body time to get used to doing that. So that’s typically something that we’ll see a lot is people just start doing too much, too soon.
Host: When is complete rest the appropriate remedy for pain?
Dr. Moroski: Yeah. So typically only in a couple of instances. Recovering from an acute injury or surgery is the only time that I recommend complete rest. The body’s made to move. So what I typically recommend is finding some way to stay active. So if you know, running’s hurting than trying to walk or getting on a stationary bike or an elliptical or swimming, you know, something else to move, though, I typically never recommend absolute complete rest, but certainly finding ways to be strategic about adjusting what you’re doing to find something that’s not going to contribute to worsening pain, but finding some other way to remain active while you’re recovering from whatever’s bothering you.
Host: Now what if you’ve tried all of these things and it’s not working, when should you see a doctor for hip and knee pain?
Dr. Moroski: Yeah. So that, that’s another good question and something that comes up a lot. Typically it’s based on the severity of the pain. Right? So, if somebody is in severe pain with inability to bear any weight, that’s something that probably shouldn’t wait. So probably a couple of days at most of rest ice and heat. If those things aren’t working and there’s still severe pain, you need to call your doctor right away. If it’s more of a nagging injury, that’s something that I typically recommend people give about six weeks of again, altering the activity, finding things to do that aren’t making the pain worse, certainly trying anti-inflammatories Advil or ibuprofen. And then again, the ice and the heat. And then again, if it’s not getting better by about six weeks, that that’s the time you should really call your doctor.
Host: Yeah. And if treatment is needed, what are some of the options available?
Dr. Moroski: Yeah, so it all depends on what the problem is. So typically we’ll start by getting x-rays and that’s going to show us really, hey, is this arthritis is going on specifically. We’re talking about hips and knees, so, you know, hip and knee arthritis is really common. So x-rays will typically show us if that’s the main issue or do we need to look deeper in if, if no significant arthritis shows up, then possibly an MRI might be considered to look at soft tissue injuries, things like that, but that will kind of determine where we go, you know, and what we need to talk about with the treatment itself.
Host: How about non-surgical treatments? Are those effective for pain management?
Dr. Moroski: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, yeah, typically, you know, there’s really four big, main categories that I talk about with patients in terms of non-operative treatment. The first being physical therapy. So working on strengthening up the muscles around the effected joint, which can really help relieve pain.
Two would be anti-inflammatories, starting out with ibuprofen and Tylenol, but then go into even prescription strength anti-inflammatories to basically block the vicious cycle of inflammation and pain in an effort to get back to function. The third option would be injections. Whether those are steroids or, you know, oftentimes we’ll do gel shots for especially knee arthritis and those having the same goals anti-inflammatories but, you know, blocking this cycle of inflammation, which contributes to pain. And the purpose of all these things is to facilitate movement, reduce pain, and allow people to get back to their activities. And then the last big option that comes up more and more, especially as more ads are out there is this whole field of biologics or PRP or stem cells.
And so gotta be careful with kind of the advertising that’s out there with it, but these can be helpful. But basically what they do is they try to harvest the body’s own healing potential. Concentrate it and then inject it where it’s needed to stimulate healing. So, those are the four sort of main categories of non-operative treatment, all which can be super effective and, and help people avoid surgery and get back to what they want to do.
Host: Great. Well, doctor, anything else you’d like to add to our conversation on hip and knee injuries and easing that pain?
Dr. Moroski: I really think that having a plan is important and then exercise can take many forms. So, typically the aerobic exercises, everybody thinks of running and biking and things like that, but really it’s just about being active. So we typically recommend that people find 30 minutes per day to be doing something active, but that can even include yard work, housework, parking further away, going grocery shopping, you know, so all that walking movement counts to hopefully get people thinking about it in terms of you know, those are just other ways to remain active. Resistance training, which is just as important as the aerobics, but finding a way to, you know, whether it’s in the gym or at home, but to strengthen the muscles.
You know, what we found is that all of these things can help not only prevent osteoporosis and thinning of the bones, but also prevent falls in the elderly. So, it’s not just to stay in shape, but it’s preventative as well. And then stretching, everybody always forgets about that one. That’s just as important to maintain the length and the, the health and the muscles to stretch them and maintain the elasticity and the health of not only the muscles, but the ligaments, tendons, and soft tissue surrounding them.
Host: Well, thank you so much for your care and information, doctor. I hope we can keep people as pain-free as possible on their walks. That was Dr. Nathan Moroski an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Prisma Health. For more information and other podcasts like this, head on over to PrismaHealth.org. This has been Flourish. A podcast brought to you by Prisma Health. I’m Caitlin Whyte. Stay well.Read More
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